“Remember the year we…” or “Wasn’t that the time when…” – words that are included in so many conversations as we near the Christmas season, and the completion of another calendar year. We all seem to wax nostalgic around certain seasons. Some people recall the best events: “We got engaged at Christmas in the year … “ – “That was the holiday we went to Florida and had a blast!” – “We had so much snow, school was cancelled!” (That last one is a really good memory).
On the flip side, there are also the difficult memories: “The last time we had Dad home for Christmas was in ….”; “We said goodbye to so many of our relatives that year.”. “That was the year _______ lost their job and …”.
As I write this, my Dad is in a retirement home in the city near where I live. His health deteriorated over the past couple of years, but in particular, this past one. The retirement home is not set up to care for his needs, but it is the only place available to him.
My husband collapsed to the floor in our home in February this year. Charlie was scheduled for his pre-op the next day, in preparation for surgery on his heart (two valve replacements and a quintuple bi-pass) the following week. That night, on Valentines Day, my love, my husband, was dying, but kept alive through the intervention of a team of Emergency Service Workers, our local Emergency room Doctors, nurses and staff, the Critical Care team of the Hamilton General Hospital… and the miraculous power of God.
Right now, a dear friend is warring against her second bout of the cancer that has robbed her of her energy, health and family relationships. Another precious friend, yesterday, walked through the loss of her sister who, after a sudden collapse while alone in her home, was in hospital. Her sister left her pain and disease behind yesterday afternoon.
A couple from my church, were separated from living together, when the husband had a car accident that left his back broken in numerous places and his neck as well. His wife is enduring the struggle of Parkinson’s Disease and she recently was brought into a long-term care home while her husband continues his care at the hospital.
Just because holiday seasons repeat every year, doesn’t mean that every year’s holiday is a celebration. But… it is a season. Pain. Grief. Loneliness. N
eeds. Separation. They ignore calendar schedules and plans.
With the personal challenges we’v
e had this year, I am learning that “There’ll be a season for joy and weeping in everything our God is Faithful…”. (“Faithfulness” ).
My Mother (who is staying in our home now, commented that, if we look back, we can’t fathom how we made it through the challenges we’ve faced in these three-hundred and sixty-plus days. But we both agreed: because people prayed for us, because we relied on the Word of the Eternal God, even when we were tired, weepy, weary, sad, depressed and heartbroken, we knew God’s Presence was with us.
Is it simple? Yes, and no. Trust is an action of the heart and mind. I CHOSE to trust that God would help us in the midst of all the “mess” that we were wading through. I kept trusting. When I was crying in the darkness, I’d believe that eventually I would stop crying because “God would wipe away all our tears.“. When I didn’t know what to do, I trusted in the God who said He was faithful “to do that which He had promised”. If I needed to get our perspective in the right place, I’d crank up the worship playlist on my phone and get on my treadmill, singing and crying and walking until God’s Spirit could fill my mind and heart with more of the God who loves me. When my heart was heavy with fatigue and emotionally drained, I’d remember that God is always “Working all things together for our good…”. Have I got it all together? No way. I keep having to repeat each action weekly… daily… sometimes hourly and minute by minute.
Trust. Pray. Worship. Wait.
Seems to me, that’s what the world was experiencing on the very edge of the night Christ was born: a longing for peace, for healing, for relationship, for fulfillment of promises, for the grief to subside. And then… breakthrough! It does come.
May you experience His Presence giving you hope for in the needs, the pain, grief, hurt, loneliness, through this “season”. Hear the angels’ message again:
“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Saviour—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!”